Zero-Waste Entertaining: Our five steps to creating a memorable celebration without the waste

Are you preparing for a joyous gathering with friends and family? If you're eager to celebrate but want to minimise the environmental impact that comes with entertaining, it’s time to look at options for a more co-friendlier route. 


Celebrations can often be full of unsustainable decorations, disposable plates, napkins and cutlery, all making their way to landfill at the end of the night. But to throw a fabulous shin dig enjoyed by all doesn’t mean you have to be left with piles of rubbish bags at the end. Embracing the idea of hosting a zero-waste party can be surprisingly simple and incredibly rewarding. 


We've prepared a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the journey in creating a memorable party that won’t have lasting negative effects on the planet. Let's embark on this exciting, waste-free endeavour together!


1. Mindful Planning

Before sending out those invites, take a moment to plan your party with a purpose. Hosting a zero-waste party starts with thoughtful planning.


Give yourself enough time to plan your celebration so you can make the most conscious decisions possible. When you leave everything to the last minute there is a higher likelihood you will resort to the disposable and convenient options which are often plastic and go against the zero-waste idea.


You want to create a guest list early on to ensure you can plan for the right amount of people, making sure you don’t source an excessive amount of food, drinks or décor in comparison to your party size.


Either send e-invites or if you like the formality of a printed invitation opt for seed-infused papers that your guests can use to grow wild flowers in their own garden. We love the plantable invites and cards from The Little Green Paper Shop:


Be sure to tell your guests that you are designing the occasion to be zero-waste, you’ll be surprised that the’ll be intrigued and want to learn more. They may even have suggestions of their own to help towards the effort.

2. Decorations

Plastic streamers, banners and centrepieces are all party essentials that we think we need to decorate for the perfect gathering. But the good news is we don’t need them, and that’s its really easy to replace them with sustainable alternatives!


When it comes to decorations, let your creativity shine! Disposable decorations are not only unsustainable, but they also look cheap and tacky. Your guests will be way more impressed if you show off your creativity and make

decorations of your own. This also means you can personalise them more easily to your event or theme. 


When it comes to decorating your party space, look no further than nature itself. Incorporate natural elements like fresh flowers, potted plants, and even reclaimed wood pieces. You can display them in glass jars, and using a variety of shapes and sizes will create add informal beauty and interest to your table.


If you're hosting an outdoor party, let the natural beauty of your surroundings take the spotlight. Arrange seating areas to enjoy the sunset or create cosy spots to gather around a bonfire. Nature's ambiance beats plastic decor any day!


For other decorations try and opt for biodegradable or reusable alternatives to plastic décor such as cloth banners and recycled paper decorations. If you have the time and a keen eye for design, why not sew together a banner or bunting using leftover fabric you might have lying around or from clothes on the donation pile. 

3. Set the Table Sustainably

When setting the table for your zero-waste dinner party, avoid disposable plates, cutlery, and glasses. They are convenient but they contribute heavily to our growing landfills.


Instead, use high-quality, durable tableware like ceramic or glass plates, stainless steel cutlery, and real glassware. If you're concerned about having enough tableware for all your guests, consider renting or borrowing them from friends for the occasion. Mix and match different pieces to add a charming and unique touch to your table setting.

Consider using cloth napkins instead of paper and invest in reusable tablecloths or table runners made from eco-friendly materials like organic cotton or linen. They also look far more sophisticated and can be used as beautiful decoration as well as purposeful. For an extra touch of elegance, use reusable beeswax wraps to cover food platters instead of disposable cling wrap.

4. Thoughtful Menu Planning

Craft a thoughtful menu that celebrates local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. Support local farmers if you can and reduce the carbon footprint of your party by sourcing ingredients from nearby producers.


Make sure to plan in accordance to your number of guests so you don’t go overboard and make too much that could possibly go to waste. 


Choose dishes that minimisze food waste by utilising the whole ingredient or offering creative ways to use leftovers. When you are out shopping for fruit and veg try to buy them loose as you can buy exactly how many you need rather than being left with a random courgette that you don’t know what to do with!


Embrace vegetarian or vegan options, which have a lower carbon footprint compared to meat-based dishes. There are lots of great recipes online from places such as Mob Kitchen or BOSH!, veggie and vegan food doesn’t have to be boring! 


Consider cooking family-style or buffet-style to encourage guests to take only what they need and reduce excess food waste. 

Sip Responsibly! Instead of stocking up on bottled beers and cans of premixed cocktails offer some homemade refreshments. You can create signature cocktails using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and upcycle the spirit bottles as vases, candle holders, water jugs etc. Take a look at these fantastic zero waste cocktail recipes for inspiration:


However, if you do want to opt for drinks such as beers and ciders for example, choose cans instead of glass. Cans are lighter and more compact, so it takes less fuel to ship them and takes less energy to recycle them. Just make sure you choose ones that definitely can be recycled.

5. Clean up, Compost and Recycling Bins

Encourage responsible waste disposal - Make it easy for your guests to join the zero-waste movement and dispose of waste responsibly by setting up clearly labelled compost and recycling bins. This will encourage them to separate their waste correctly, ensuring that items are properly sorted and diverted from landfills. 

After the party, ensure the clean-up aligns with your zero-waste goals. Starting in the kitchen, if you have compostable waste, consider starting a compost pile or use a composting service in your area. For any food scraps that cannot be composted, consider setting up a worm composting system, which can turn organic waste into rich fertiliser for your garden.

Remember to thank your guests for coming and for their support in creating your zero-waste celebration. You never know, you might have inspired them to have a go themselves!

Compost bin

Hosting a zero-waste party is not only environmentally responsible but also an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. With mindful planning, sustainable choices, and a dash of creativity, you can host a stylish and eco-friendly gathering that leaves a positive impact on your guests and the planet. Let's lead the way in making zero-waste entertaining the new norm and celebrate the joy of connecting with loved ones without harming the environment. Together, we can make a significant impact in creating a more sustainable future, one party at a time!

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